The Kelowna Rockets are one win away from moving on to round two of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
Kelowna built up a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 5-3 win in Kennewick, WA Wednesday to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
They can close it out Friday at Prospera Place.
Madison Bowey just 4:24 into the game and Cole Linaker eight minutes later staked the Rockets to a 2-0 lead in a period assistant coach Dan Lambert described on the post game radio broadcast as good a period as the first period the night before.
Justin Kirkland 1:33 into the second pushed the lead to 3-0 before the Americans began chipping away at the lead.
"I thought our first period was as good as last night's. In the second period they pushed back.," says Lambert.
"We were able to get a couple of goals but we didn't play the way we needed to. That's when great teams lock things down."
Brian Williams and Philip Tot both scored for Tri-City sandwiched between a power-play goal from Rockets Marek Tvrdon giving Kelowna a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Tyson Baillie scored his first of the playoffs before the final period was four minutes old before Justin Hamonic closed out the scoring 10 minutes later.
Jordon Cooke slammed the door the rest of the way.
While Americans goaltender Eric Comrie stole game three for Tri-City, Lambert says the tables were turned Wednesday.
"Our goalie probably stole this one for us. Jordon Cooke was phenomenal. He stood on his head."
Lambert says fatigue, playing four games in five nights, caught up with the Rockets forcing Cooke to be as good as he was.
"I think fatigue has something to do with that. It's not physical fatigue, it's mental fatigue."
The Rockets lost the services of leading scorer Myles Bell during the second period. Bell did not return to the game.
Lambert would not disclose the injury only to say Bell would be checked out when the team returns to Kelowna to determine his availability for game five Friday.
As for Friday...
"We've played them pretty well at home. We haven't given them a whole lot," says Lambert.
"We have to check and be the best checking team. When you do that you usually play a lot in their end. That's our game plan."
Note Friday's game will begin 30 minutes later than normal. Face-off Friday is 7:30.